Debate assistance…

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    During one of my business ethics classes, we were discussion the concept of ownership. The question revolved around a Costa Rican Gov’t deal with the company Merk. The trade was for land rights to the Costa Rican rain forest to research plants and animals for medicinal purposes. I proposed that Merk rightfully owned the land, being so that they “mixed” land with labor. Using the Lockean property principles. I then said the Costa Rican Gov’t could not since, they could not “mix” their land with labor, but only permit/deny others to do so. I was brought back with that my concept of Gov’t ownership is no different then corprote ownership and therefore null. I envoked the quote of Rothbard which said Any member of the “pub­lic” who thinks he owns the property may test this theory by try­ing to appropriate for his own individual use his aliquot part of government property”. Which was then turned around on me (see below) There are smarter people on here then I, any thoughts?

    His rebuttal:

    I agree, but in the same way a corporation is not a living, breathing, flesh and bone individual, but just try and explain that to the courts. I think we can both attest to the large scope of protections that the government grants to corporate entities to protect the fruits of their “labor” even though McDonald’s, the corporate entity, has never flipped a burger and never will, and Walmart, the corporate entity, has never assisted you in checking out your groceries. Rather, these entities, and the appointed men and women behind them appropriate funds, a labor force, and resources from the earth in order to produce a good or service which the corporate entity as a whole claims ownership to until a transaction takes place granting ownership to the consumer. At no point in time can the owners of the corporation, the shareholders, claim ownership of any of the corporate assets, or products, other than their stock certificate and the current cash value it will fetch in the market. The owner of 1% of Walmart stock cannot walk into the local supercenter and take the cash equivalent of his stock in inventory off the floor without being arrested for theft, even though he would have only been taking the equivalent of what he “owned”.


    Your protagonist is completely mistaken. Shareholders have a legal claim to the equity of an enterprise. A shareholder who owns one percent of the shares has a legal claim to one percent of the equity of the enterprise. The claim can be exercised if the enterprise disbands. Of course a legal claim to equity that can be exercised only on condition that the enterprise goes out of business does not give the shareholder a legal claim on the inventory of the enterprise. Neither does a consumer get a claim on an enterprise’s “cash equivalent of his stock of inventory” by buying a tube of toothpaste. But, he does get a legal claim to the tube of toothpaste. In contrast, no person has a legal claim of ownership to the property of the state whatsoever. Citizens have no legal claim to any property owned by the state. Government officials have legal use of state owned property, but not full legal ownership.

    On this point, take a look at Hans Hoppe:


    Wow, what a great rebuttal. Thank you greatly, Mr. Herbener!

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